Simon Bridges backs Govt's refusal to ban fireworks

Peter Williams 04/11/2019

Simon Bridges says "law-abiding" Kiwis shouldn't lose the right to let off fireworks in their own back yards.

Though the Government has no plans to ban them, Bridges made a pitch for explosion-lovers in a chat with Magic Talk's Peter Williams on Monday, saying he backed the status quo.

"You end up banning something the vast majority of law-abiding people do well for a few idiots," he said.

I've got incredibly good memories of doing this with my family - it's good, wholesome family fun. They've actually banned all the really powerful stuff - I remember rockets that seemed to go all the way to the moon when I was a kid... and double-happies."

In 2007, the previous Labour-led Government restricted sales to just four days a year, raised the legal purchase age to 18 and restricted their explosive power. National made no changes to these rules in its nine years. 

Since then, the number of ACC claims has trended downwards, statistics provided to Newshub show - particularly over the past two years. The number of Fire and Emergency callouts has also been declining in recent years - from 180 in the first five days of November 2015 to just 111 last year. 

Earlier this year Auckland Council asked residents if they'd like private use of fireworks banned, and 89 percent of respondents said yes

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, despite thinking they're a "pain in the butt", has previously said she doesn't think there needs to be a total ban. But Bridges doesn't trust her.

"You couldn't take it for granted with this Government - I think they wanted to ban sugar for a while there, but the public backlash was so much. I don't support it - I never will."

The Government has never actually made moves to ban sugar. Just a few weeks ago, Ardern specifically ruled out even taxing sugar to help fight obesity.

Bridges joked if people were serious about reducing ACC costs, they would ban rugby rather than fireworks.

"What do you reckon we've spent on rugby? I don't know the answer. By the way, I'm not advocating banning rugby. But you get my point. Law-abiding people do this - the fun police should back off."

According to an NZME report in December, rugby costs ACC about $71 million a year, about twice the next most injurious sports activities - football and gym.